OSHA recordkeeping rule stalled

In May of 2016, OSHA enacted amendments to its recordkeeping regulation that would require establishments with 250 or more employees to submit OSHA 300 logs and 301 forms electronically. But now that change is in limbo.

At the time the change was announced, OSHA said the forms would be published on its website, with employee names and other personal information redacted. According to the agency, “making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.”

But the Trump administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions proposed removing the requirement to electronically submit forms 300 and 301. OSHA now says it may eliminate the requirement because it cannot guarantee the non-release of personally identifiable information. Instead, covered employers would continue to submit 300A summary forms.

Opponents have argued that a 300 log is not always an accurate reflection of an employer’s safety program and that publicizing such data would provide harmful fodder to union organizers and litigants.

However, OSHA currently has no ability to obtain a national snapshot of a company’s injury and illness data because such information lives on paper and is limited to individual establishments that have been inspected. The electronic submission requirements would have changed that, providing an OSHA compliance officer with a way to compare hazards and mitigation efforts at one facility with efforts made at another. As a result, employers who did not use such hazard information to improve conditions nationwide could have theoretically been charged with a “willful” violation. By not collecting 300 log and 301 forms in an electronic format, OSHA loses this insight and opportunity.

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